(2007) dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel, James McTeigue
viewed: 08/23/07 at Century San Francisco Centre, SF, CA
The fourth feature film rendering of Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers in some ways, perhaps many ways, begs the question of necessity. Don Siegel’s 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers seemed pretty much to hit the nail on the head, a Cold War paranoia film with strong aspects of allegory regarding Communism and/or McCarthyism. Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version was a fairly well-made “gore-ification” update of the film, something that was happening at the time when special effects and mainstream horror films became big gorefests. Then, in 1993, Abel Ferrara took a low-budget shot at it, that, to be honest, I hardly remember at all.
So now, we have German director Oliver Hirschbiegel whose Das Experiment (2001) I had seen and had considered seeing his 2005 Downfall. But apparently, significant late reshooting, reediting, rewriting came at the hands of the Warchowski (read: Matrix) Brothers and their sidekick director James McTeigue who brought us V for Vendetta (2005). All in all, as much as I note directors, etc. I hardly noted any of this through the film.
Nicole Kidman, who always seems to be good, along with Daniel Craig, who has yet to disappoint, star in this latest take on an alien force that takes over human beings’ bodies and usurps their personae with some bland yet malevolent force and seeks to take over the world. This time, the force is a virus, not your classic “pod people”…which is pretty hokey in this day and age, while viruses and disease and genetics do have a fear factor.
The characters who are taken over become sort of lobotomized and relatively pacified, that is, except for any people who are yet uninfected or potentially strain-resistant. It is creepy. And the film does a good job of making this somewhat compelling and thrilling. It’s something altogether intense in and of itself.
Does it achieve greatness? Significance? Meaning? It is interesting when viewed through the lens of the contemporary zombie film. In a sense, it has an aspect not utterly unlike that. Less violent, but still the result is a loss of self to a non-death state, some end that isn’t end, some apocalypse with current fears and resonances to give it teeth. I think that this was a good film, a decent thrill ride, and worthwhile. I just don’t know what they will do when someone makes it a fifth time.
You know they will.